Suffering from jaw and facial pain? The culprit might be your jaw muscles
When discussing jaw and facial pain, Lethbridge dentist Dr. Lachman explains: “The primary jaw muscle responsible for chewing is called the masseter muscle. It lies at the sides of your jaw just behind your cheeks. It’s the also the muscle that causes you to clench your jaw.”
You use your masseter muscle a lot. Think about how often you use your jaw as you:
- the list goes on
Because we use it so much it’s one of the most common locations for trigger points in your body. A trigger point is a contracted muscle, that can send pain signals to surrounding areas such as your jaw, face head, or ears.
How well is your jaw working?
- Do you experience pain when you bite?
- Can you only open your mouth so far?
- Do you hear clicking or popping when you chew?
- Do you suffer from symptoms such as headaches, jaw and facial pain or sore neck or shoulder muscles?
If you answered yes to even one of those questions, something isn’t right. These symptoms are indicators that your jaw joint may be unstable.
A healthy Temporo-Mandibular joint (TMJ) is quiet. When you use it on a day-to-day basis, you shouldn’t experience discomfort. The muscles that control your jaw should work in harmony, allowing you to open and close your mouth smoothly and silently without jaw and face pain.
It often starts with a misaligned bite
As with anything you use repeatedly, over time you will probably experience wear and tear. The same holds true for your teeth. Think about it. You use them continuously, day-in and day-out.
Each day, your teeth contribute to your ability to talk, breathe, eat, drink and swallow. You chew with them, bite with them, grind them, brush them, floss them and generally (although you may not see it this way) abuse them.
Worn teeth can lead to a misaligned, or “bad bite”. When this occurs, the wear and tear on your teeth is considerably more rapid and severe. The erosion of your teeth can lead to:
- uneven tooth wear
- loss of range of motion in your jaw
- gum recession
and an assortment of other symptoms, like jaw and facial pain.
TMJ treatment may help
TMJ treatment starts with a diagnosis of the problem. By reviewing your dental and medical history, and conducting a series of diagnostic tests, Lethbridge dentist Dr Karstan Lachman can help to uncover any problems with your bite that could be contributing to your jaw and facial pain.
The first step is to relax those jaw muscles. Once this is achieved, you may find your pain subsiding.
Phase 2 TMJ treatment involves keeping your jaw muscles relaxed over the longer term. This often involves correcting any dental issues that could have caused the jaw muscles to become overworked in the first place.
Do you have TMJD?
If you suffer from undiagnosed jaw and facial pain and would like to learn more about TMJ and how it could be the culprit, please schedule a consultation.